Updated: December 9, 2011
Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe (OpenTTD) is a clone of what is arguably the best game of all times, the legendary Chris Sawyer's Transport Tycoon Deluxe, the ultimate in transport simulations. The game refused to die when the DOS platform did and remains highly popular with fans. Thus, OpenTTD was born, a complete rewrite of the original. Since, it has only grown more popular and exploded with version 1.0, which no longer demanded that you have the original graphics file, becoming truly a standalone and free product for all. The legend became epic.
The one thing that stands out is the quality of graphics in the game - DOS-like, 256 colors. True to its legacy, even the open graphics replacement kit remains archaic in its look. The game feels like something from the last decade of the last century of the last millennium, not that this affects its fun in any way. But you get only that much detail, only that much zoom, as reasonably permissible by 8-bit vectors. Now, how would you like to play OpenTTD in 32-bit graphics? Epic becomes divine.
How to play OpenTTD in 32-bit graphics mode
In this article, I will both demo the 32-bit graphics as well as show you how to install and play OpenTTD with this conversion. It is still early work in heavy and continuous development, so things may change any moment, but nightly builds are fairly stable if incomplete, but totally playable. Best of all, you can have both the regular game and the 32-bit graphics version coexisting peacefully side by side. Moreover, your scenarios and saves are in no away affected. So you must try this.
The installation is a little complicated. First, go to the official wiki and read about 32-bit graphics. Once you're ready, follow the setup instructions. The topic is called extra zoom levels, but it comes with much beautified sprites, extra detail, new animations, and a whole new level of fun. It may sound daunting, but it is not. You need to download four packages and extract them. That's all.
First, download the special OpenTTD build designed to run with the 32-bit graphics. I will be demonstrating on Linux, so it's tar.gz archive for me. Extract anywhere you want. Let's assume /home/roger/openttd. Inside the extracted openttd directory, there's the data directory. Here, you will need to extract the graphics mega pack, which weighs 30-80MB, depending on the actual version and contents, the OpenGFX and OpenSFX graphics, which are also normally required for the standard game, and the latest extra grf file. If I were to script this, then these are the commands you need:
tar zxvf <openttd>.tar.gz - in your home dir; becomes /home/user/openttd
unzip <opengfx>.zip -d /home/user/openttd/data
unzip <opensfx>.zip -d /home/user/openttd/data
unzip <extra grf>.zip -d /home/user/openttd/data
Basically, you are ready to go. Fire up the game. Then in the main menu, click NewGRF Settings. This will open a menu, where you can scan for local, inactive GRF files. Here, you will find your extra grf file, which will be using the mega pack content for graphics. Select, click add, apply changes. That's all. You can also search for additional online content, including music, new train and airplane sets, city names, trees, and whatnot, but we don't need that now.
Now, go into the main menu and start playing. That's really all!
Playing in 32-bit mode
This is absolutely marvelous. For example, look at that factory. And then, look at the incredible zoom and yet more detail. Not all of the graphics have been converted, but the parts that have are staggering. Notice the game menu has also been revamped. Pure joy. Brings a tear to my eye.
I also loaded one of my own games, a custom scenario, just for fun, and it worked just fine. At the moment, most of the focus is on the conventional graphics. Airports are new, but most of the planes are not. Classic railroad tracks, stations and some the cars have been redesigned, but monorail and maglev will have to wait. Buses are modern and slick. It's work in progress, but it looks damn pretty.
The one negative thing at the moment is that if you're playing on low zoom, i.e. you see most of the map, then the game takes a heavy CPU toll, as the binaries are not yet optimized. But it's still great. Well, that would be all, and you can find tons of beautiful screenshots and videos online. For example, this forum post seems like a great source of inspiration.
OpenTTD is the best thing since the Polio vaccine, or near enough. This perfect game has now gained a visual element that will make it modern and slick, without compromising on the pure simulation that captivated the hearts of millions sixteen years back. A geek's dream come true, really.
The installation is a little cumbersome at the moment, as you will need to manually grab the files, extract them and place them in the relevant directories, but this sounds more complicated than it really is. Hopefully, this article will help you around. Now, spread the word and show support for the OpenTTD team, so that we can get this going as soon as possible. 32-bit graphics, go, go, go! Absolutely beautiful.
Many thanks to Mr. V for telling me about this!